Dear Members and Friends of the Flickers of Freedom Blog,
Who says that there is no progress in philosophy? Here is a new, exciting result in the area of free will which I would like to share with you. Alexander Pruss (BaylorUniversity) managed to provide a formal proof of a version of van Inwagen's Rule Beta – a rule of inference that is used in the Consequence Argument. The rule Pruss proved reads as follows:
Beta-2: For any propositions p and q: Np, p entails q ⊢ Nq.
If correct, this result strengthens the incompatibilist position with respect to free will and determinism, since now the only alternatives open to the compatibilist are either to deny the fixity of the past, or to deny the fixity of the laws of nature.
Pruss's proof appears in his article "Incompatibilism Proved" Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43 (2013): 430–437. Unfortunately, due to the rather formal way in which it is presented (the proof employs the Fitch-style natural deduction system) it may deter readers unfamiliar with that system to study the proof. (Pruss reports that one of the referees for CJP insisted that he present a formal proof.) Aside from simply wanting to spread the news, I also have a special interest in his paper, as the Beta Principle that Pruss proves is one I proposed in (Widerker, 1987). Also, I happened to be a referee for his 2013-paper.
So first, I wish to express my congratulations to Alexander Pruss on the important result he managed to prove!!!
Second, since Pruss's paper is not easy to follow, I would like to try to present the proof of his main result (and other principles on which the proof is based) in a somewhat simpler way. (See attachment)
With best wishes,